Parental and/or Guardian Notification

A fundamental goal of Grinnell College is to support students’ growth, independence and maturity, in part by expecting them to assume responsibility for their own educational and personal matters. We operate on the premise that students are adults; therefore, we desire to work directly with them – and not through their parents or guardians – on problems they are experiencing academically or socially. At the same time, the College also encourages students and parents or guardians to communicate directly, regularly, and openly with each other about issues of mutual concern.

Federal law protects the confidentiality of student educational records and specifies those limited situations in which information may be disclosed without a student’s prior written consent. In most instances, students will be encouraged to communicate with their own parents or guardians. Release of student education records, even to parents of dependent children, is generally not done at Grinnell College without the expressed written consent of the student, which can be accomplished through forms retrieved from the Registrar’s office (academic information) or Student Affairs (personal and behavioral information).

As allowed by law, the College reserves the right to notify parents or guardians directly about situations that would constitute a health and safety emergency (as determined through the professional judgement of the Associate Vice President of Student Affairs or their designee). The cases in which Grinnell would notify parents or guardians cannot be completely enumerated or described; it is, for example, the belief of the College that these situations may constitute an invocation of the health and safety exception to a student’s privacy: serious injury, hospitalization, hospital visits for alcohol poisoning or drug overdose, violence or abuse toward self or others, arrest or police action, very serious mental health concerns, or behavior that will likely result in suspension or dismissal from College-owned residence or the College itself. In the case of an unexplained absence of a student for several days or more, the college also reserves the right to contact friends and relatives to help in locating the student.

Grinnell College recognizes, however, that circumstances might cause a student to believe that notification of parents would be inappropriate. The Associate Vice President for Student Affairs or their designee uses professional judgment when determining whether notifying parents or guardians is essential and beneficial to student welfare. In certain individual instances, the College may then conclude that it is not in the student’s best interest that parental/guardian notification take place, and in that event, an exception to the privacy policy may not be made.

In every case, College staff will attempt to partner with the student when informing a parent or guardian in order to discuss the possible benefits and challenges of notification.

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